South Jersey Divorce Lawyers
A divorce can be complicated and emotionally charged, especially if one of the spouses does not want to end the marriage. A divorce can also be complex if significant assets are involved.
A divorce can occur for a variety of reasons. During a divorce, the spouses will separate and work together, through their lawyers, to reach an agreeable settlement. A settlement includes how assets will be divided, child custody arrangements, and a parenting plan, among other important items.
If the couple has a civil relationship, negotiations may not be as difficult and mediation can be helpful. However, if the two do not have an amicable relationship, they may be unable to reach a quick agreement, and mediation may be a long process. When that happens, it will be up to a judge to decide on an equitable divorce settlement that is fair to both sides. When it comes to custody arrangements for the children, a judge will base the decision on the best interest of the children. A New Jersey divorce lawyer will guide you through the process and help you make the right decisions.
What Are Grounds for Divorce in New Jersey?
Divorces in New Jersey can be based on no-fault or fault grounds. Most cases are filed based on no-fault grounds. There are two no-fault grounds in New Jersey:
- Irreconcilable differences: You and your spouse have had irreconcilable differences which have led to the breakdown of the marriage for at least six months; there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.
- Separation: You and your spouse have been living separate in different residences for 18 months, and reconciliation is not possible.
Fault divorces include:
- Willful desertion for 12 months or more.
- Extreme cruelty.
- Addiction to any narcotic drug.
- Habitual drunkenness for 12 months or more.
- Institutionalization for mental illness for 24 consecutive months.
- Imprisonment for 18 months or more.
- Deviant sexual conduct.
How Do I File for Divorce in New Jersey?
To file for a divorce in New Jersey, one of the parties must satisfy a residency requirement. Specifically, one of the parties must be a bona fide resident of New Jersey at the time that the cause of action arose. Except in adultery cases, the party must reside in New Jersey for one year before the filing of the Complaint for Divorce form.
For those filing a fault divorce, the burden of proof is on the person filing for divorce. If they are filing due to domestic violence, they must be willing and able to prove this in a court of law.
How Is Property Distributed in a Divorce?
A major component of a divorce settlement is determining which spouse gets possession of certain property. It is important to note that only what the court deems as marital assets are subject to property distribution. What determines a marital asset can be tricky. An asset a couple purchased after the marriage is treated as a marital asset, but there are a few exceptions. For instance, if one spouse is bequeathed property and maintains sole possession and does not comingle it with other marital assets, then it remains a sole asset.
Before engaging in divorce proceedings, both spouses should know that New Jersey is an equitable distribution state. That means when the court divides the marital assets, it will do so in a manner that is fair, although that does not necessarily mean an equal 50/50 split.
There is a three-stage process in distributing the assets. The first and second steps are identifying and valuing the assets, respectively. The third step can get complicated, as this is the stage where a judge will determine how to distribute the assets. They will use several factors in their decision, including:
- Length of the marriage.
- Age of the parties.
- Standard of living during the marriage.
- Any written agreements among the couple.
- Educational level of each spouse.
- Earning potential of each spouse.
The judge will then draw up the plan, and once they sign off on it, the divorce is finalized. In situations where the couple negotiates the distribution of assets, the judge must approve the plan before they finalize it to ensure that it is fair to both parties.
How Is Alimony Determined?
Either spouse can ask for alimony at the conclusion of a marriage. There are multiple factors that will determine if alimony is granted and for how long. These factors have to do with each spouse’s ability to support themselves. The age of a spouse, their level of education, their lifestyle, as well as their individual financial outlook are all factors in determining alimony.
There are four main types of alimony in New Jersey that provide support for varying levels of time:
- Pendente lite alimony: This alimony is the only version that occurs while the divorce is pending. This is to ensure that a spouse’s life is not disrupted financially due to the divorce. It ends upon the finalization of the divorce.
- Limited duration alimony: There are instances where one spouse will need time to become more self-sufficient, but in the meantime, they need financial support to maintain their standard of living. A judge will establish a fixed timetable of when these payments will stop. It will also end if the supported spouse re-marries.
- Rehabilitative alimony: This alimony provides financial support to the ex-spouse as they undergo training or education that will allow them to become financially independent. This alimony will end when the couple decides it is no longer necessary or a judge makes that determination. The re-marriage of the supported spouse cannot be a reason for it to end.
- Open duration alimony: One of the rarest versions of alimony. This is reserved for couples who have been married for a long time and one of the spouses has become financially dependent on the other. The only way this alimony can end is by the re-marriage of the dependent spouse.
The courts have broad discretion when it comes to determining alimony payments. There is no specific formula that they will use, and they will tailor each arrangement depending on the couple. How payments are made and the frequency of the payments are details that the couple can arrange with the judge. However, it is critical to have a divorce lawyer.
A lawyer will also assist if one of the spouses stops making alimony payments or if the paying spouse suspects they no longer need to make payments. In those instances, a lawyer can notify the judge on the case and voice their concerns.
How Long Is the Divorce Process in New Jersey?
Divorce follows a formalized path that varies only slightly from case to case. While the relevant laws and the court rulings in each case will differ, the divorce timeline does not vary greatly.
If both parties cooperate, the divorce can be finalized in as little as three to six months. Most divorces in the state are settled within 12 months of the date the Complaint for Divorce was filed, however, there are exceptions to this rule. If the divorce is contentious or there are complex issues, it could take over 14 months for it to be finalized.
South Jersey Divorce Lawyers at Goldstein & Mignogna, P.A. Can Help You Navigate the Divorce Process
If you are preparing for divorce or have divorce-related issues, you need a lawyer on your side. Our South Jersey divorce lawyers at Goldstein & Mignogna, P.A. can help you through your divorce proceedings. Call us at 856-890-9400 or contact us online today to schedule an initial consultation. Located in Marlton, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Burlington County, Camden County, and Gloucester County.
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